Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Music and the web. Last.fm description for music-addicts.



Music has an important place in my daily routine and is in my top of motivational things' list.
I like to discover new artists and songs and challenge my musical taste. I like to be the first one to discover new songs and to share it with others :)

I never forget where i first heard the song and who helped me with the discovery.

Day 51: Tuesday
by archwaves

There are several means i use to discover new music.
  • Movies. I like soundtrack music and ending songs. When I hear some song in a movie, I look at its soundtrack page on imdb.com and search for downloading. When i'm not sure which song is it, i just try to remember several words to google later.
  • Radio. I don't listen to radio much, but if i do (in a taxi or supermarket, or when my sister listens to it loudly at home) and i hear some nice tune I haven't heard before - i'm trying to remember some words and google to find it.
  • Charts. Sometimes when i see a new band/artist in a chart and hear about it sometimes in the news, read in blogs, I just open its last.fm page and listen the preview.
  • Similar artists. There's time when i'm being tired of all the music i'm listening to at the moment and want something new - new artist or new style. I use artist radio feature on last.fm (read about it below) or similar artists feature. For example i like Sigur Ros and wanted to listen to similar icelandic bands - I discovered Amiina and Mum that way.
Generally, last.fm is the best music resource on the web. If you live with music like me, you should definitely register there.

So what is last.fm?
Last.fm is a music service that learns what you love... Every track you play will tell your Last.fm profile something about what you like. It can connect you to other people who like what you like - and recommend songs from their music collections and yours too.
So how does it know what music do you listen and what do you like? Last.fm has a small application that you download and install in your computer and that collects information about the music you listen on your players - Windows media player, Winamp, iTunes or other. It's called - scrobbling.

Here's how my last.fm client looks like:
On the left menu I have the stations - i can listen to music with this client. Like listening to artist stations (if i type Madonna, i will have a playlist with music similar to Madonna's. Or I can listen to recommendations station which has music recommended by last.fm based on my music taste. Below, there are my recently played tracks, ones that I loved (this is how you teach last.fm about your taste), hated, how I tagged the music... friends' and neighbours' music and history of radiostations I've listened to.


Key facts and features:
  • It doesn't upload your music, it just sends the songs' information and if you want - downloads artist description and artwork so the traffic it consumes is not significant.
  • Taste-o-meter: a cool feature with helps you to find people who share the musical taste with you. You can open any profile on last.fm and see which artists you have in common and how high is your music compatibility.
  • In last.fm you have your music library that consists of the songs you have played.
  • Neighbours: Just like in real life - neighbours are ones who listen the music you are listening (if you have it enough loud :D). In last.fm, you can quickly find people with similar taste by clicking the Neighbours tab in your profile.
  • Charts: You have your weekly, monthly, 3-month, 6-month, yearly and overall stats of both artists and tracks.To be scrobbled, the tracks you listen must meet the following criteria: 1) be longer than 30 seconds, 2) have vaild meta information for both track and artist names, 3) track must have been listened to for more than 50% of its length. If the song you are listening isn't being scrobbled, it means that either the ID tag is missing, or your scrobbling is disabled.
  • You can recommend your good music discoveries to last.fm friends with the Recommendation feature.
  • Events: This feature helps to find concerts near you (you set your location) and you can confirm your attendance and meet other people that might be attending.
  • Last.fm, as a social network has a an internal messaging system, wall in a profile, groups and journals too.
Tips: 
  • It's important to have your music tagged correctly - with the correct artist/track. Winamp has an auto-tag feature that helped me to entirely organize my collection. It's not 100% useful for all tracks (especially Armenian and Russian) but helps significantly!
  • Check your stats regularily and don't let your younger sister listen to backstreet boys or other music you wouldn't like to appear in your charts :-) Luckily you can setup different user accounts and switch between them in last.fm or just disable scrobbling. You can usually delete scrobbled tracks from your stats page for the last 2-3 days.
  • Paid subscription: Basically you get all the described features for free, but you can also become a subscriber that let's you have a sexy black square on your avatar :D (as last.fm describes it). But that's not just it! It costs just 3$ monthly, and the major benefits are:
    • No Ads: You won't see any ads on your and others' profile and other people won't see on yours,
    • Profile Visitors: You can see who visited your profile recently.
    • Personal playlists: You will be able to build unlimited personal playlists.
    • Loved tracks: You will have your loved tracks' radiostation.
  • Scrobble from your portable player! You can scrobble music from your iPod or phone player too !  When i'm outside, walking and listening to music, i want it also to be counted!  I wanted to have something like this for a long time and finally found it ! For s60 smartphones there's a nice client - Mobbler. You just install the application on your mobile and you can practically do everything you can do with the windows last.fm client - scrobble played songs, listen to radios, playlists etc... If you, like me, don't want to use phone's internet traffic, you can generate a log file with scrobbled songs information and later upload it to last.fm from PC using one of applications described here: http://www.rockbox.org/twiki/bin/view/Main/LastFMLog. I am using QTScrobbler, since it works with protocol 1.2 and scrobbles the songs from phone, even when i have listened and scrobbled other songs from PC after that (protocol 1.1. doesn't support it)
  • Widgets for websites and blogs: Last.fm offers lots of cool widgets that help you to show off the music you listen - last tracks or overall top artists, tracks and so on.
    arpik's Profile Page


    If my post was useful to you, register there and add me as a friend :)
    Here's my profile: http://www.last.fm/user/arpik

    I like it's interface language - very fun and live :)

    1 comment:

    David said...

    Another approach to music discovery is 'social music recommendation' based on the psychological perception of music.
    Our new service Music Patterns provides customized playlists based on music that 'People Like You' actually listen to.

    Using a psychology-based approach to music preferences , this method combines your individual preferences with identifying those that are similar to your 'music personality.'

    This new form of social music recommendation was developed from years of research in this area by best selling author Dr. Dan Levitin and our team at Signal Patterns.